Friday, January 12, 2007

When the Darkness Will Not Lift

John Piper has a new book out titled When the Darkness Will Not Lift about the Christian's struggle with depression. You can download it for free online.

Speaking of Piper, his sermons on John Newton and William Cowper (who himself suffered severe bouts of depression, not to mention insanity, throughout his life) would be worth listening to as well. They're freely available here in MP3 format. Scroll down to the section "Men of Whom the World Was Not Worthy."

Along the same lines, I found Michael Haykin's sermon on William Cowper equally edifying, particularly his comments on Cowper's hymns "God moves in a mysterious way" and "There is a fountain filled with blood."

I'd also recommend D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones' series of sermons which were subsequently turned into a book called Spiritual Depression.

Of course, the last thing a melancholy, downcast soul needs is a burdensome list of books and other resources to plough through, so please use your discretion.


  1. This topic always fascinated me. Why is it that Christian men suffer bouts of heavy depression.

    I've heard Luther had dark moments, Spurgeon too.

    In theory, one would think that the fact that God has freely chosen us while we should have been hell bound should lift our spirits out of any sadness, but this isn't so.


  2. Isn't depression a chemical imbalance?

  3. Depression can be caused by many different things. For instance, when I went through it, it was primarily caused by sleep apnea that caused sleep deprivation (as I did not get enough REM sleep). After two years of sleep deprivation, I had a severe case of depression!

    But there's also family history, which indicates some of it is genetic. (For instance, on one side of my family everyone has been diagnosed with depression or related illnesses.) There are also environmental factors, such as stress and non-healthy lifestyles, that can contribute to depression.

    Personally, I think many cases of depression are a combination of the above. E.G., there may be a genetic predisposition to depression that can be triggered by environmental factors--such as losing a spouse, or a job--that then create non-healthy lifestyles--such as not enough sleep, which increases the severity of the depression, etc. In such cases, it's not going to cure the problem simply by saying, "It's a chemcial imbalance; take this pill and the chemicals will become balanced."

    Again, in my personal example, the specific cause of my depression was sleep apnea. All the medication for depression in the world didn't change the CAUSE; thus, it wasn't until I got tested for sleep apnea and got a CPAP machine, etc. that I got over it.

  4. To piggyback off of CalvinDude's good points, I believe OCD sufferers tend to have keen difficulties with depression.

    And, obviously, I think there's something to be said for our (presumably God-given) personalities and temperaments. For example, some of us are more sensitive than others. Some of us are perfectionists. Those Christians with such inclinations might in a sense be more predisposed to a melancholy outlook on life and so forth.

    Plus how we're raised, our background, the kind of family we've come from, etc. all plays into this. But that's probably pretty obvious, too.

    Sorry, I guess I've not really thought through the "why" of depression so much.

    I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts, too.

  5. I agree with you both. In my case I started taking Anti-Depressants. I don't look at medication as the answer but more as a help.

    I know unless God changes my heart anything I do is useless. I've let a lot in over the years, a lot of weeds to root up. That's a big part of the why of depression, at least as far as it affects me.

    A big part also is hereditary. I have a history in my family of depression, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide.

    Top that off with some shady acquaintances during my early to late teen years and you have the makings of a mess of a person.

    But, as an example of how I can praise God through it all; I thank God that he taught me that through my drug experience I could learn to love and forgive my father, by understanding why he was never around. How could he be if he was wasted. I know he was hurting just as I was, hurting and helpless.